Shakespeare & Company is a quirky bookshop located in Paris in the banks of La Siene River across Notre Dame Cathedral. Apart from its vast bookshelves and its wide variety of books, the store hosts several events. Originally, the shop’s name was Le Mistral, but it was changed to Shakespeare & Company on April 1964, on the fourth hundredth anniversary of the writer’s birth.
All the books found here are in English, making it a perfect location for book worms travelling through France with little to no knowledge of the French language.
The bookshop was founded by George Whitman, an American, in the year 1951. The building that holds the library is a former monastery, La Maison du Mustier.
About the founder? Well, he is quite an interesting character. In his youth, during the Great Depression, he set off to travel through Mexico and Central America with only $40 dollars to his name. During his trip, he experiences the kindness of strangers through several means but the most outstanding one was when he fell ill in Yucatan and was taken care of by a tribe of Mayans.
Through hitchhiking, sleeping at local’s places and more, George was able to travel. For this reason, wishing to pass on the generosity, the library offers a place to sleep. To date, over 30,000 tumbleweeds (as they call those who stay the night) have found a roof to sleep under in Paris. In fact, the library’s motto is “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”
Staying there is not exactly free, at least monetarily-wise. In exchange for the roof, tumbleweeds are asked to read a book, to help out at the shop and to write a one-page autobiography. Thousands and thousands of autobiographies are stacked in a bookshelf, making Shakespeare & Company a truly unique place full of history, dreams and experiences.
RER C: Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame